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Back to class means back to the kitchen for Thunder Bay students

Students are once again cooking up a storm at Kingsway Park elementary in Thunder Bay, Ont., learning some life-skills in the school's new culinary classroom.

Cooking skills 'something that every kid has the right to learn'

Grade 8 students from Valley Central school in Thunder Bay learn to bake cakes at the culinary classroom at Kingsway Park elementary. Lakehead Public Schools students from across Thunder Bay's south-side are visiting Kingsway for lessons in the kitchen. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

Students are once again cooking up a storm at Kingsway Park elementary in Thunder Bay, Ont., learning some life skills in the school's new culinary classroom.

The classroom, which opened in January as part of a larger expansion at Kingsway, features five fully-equipped cooking stations, where Grade 7 and 8 students can get real hands-on experience that they can take home to their kitchens. 

"I think, especially at this intermediate age, they're getting to that maturity now and that independence. They want to do things more on their own," said Todd Miller, the culinary teacher at the school. 

"So to give them some of the basic skills so that they can be comfortable in the kitchen, so that they can make things that are healthy and delicious in the kitchen, I think that's a pretty special thing, and I think it's something that every kid has the right to learn."

Culinary teacher Todd Miller works with students in the culinary classroom at Kingsway Park School. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

The classroom isn't just being used by Kingsway students. It's also being visited by Grade 7 and 8 students from other south-side public elementary schools. The students come for four or five days at a time, and spend all day in the kitchen cooking or baking. 

"So it's very interactive, very hands on and they're 100 per cent engaged from the moment they walk in to the moment they leave," Miller said. 

TImothy Devries, Sara Miller and Emma Jackson, of Valley Central School, show off some freshly baked cake. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

For 12-year-old Emma Jackson, a Grade 8 student from Valley Central, the class visits have been paying off. 

"Before I came here last year, I knew a few things, like how to make scrambled eggs," she said, "But this year, I feel like I know a lot more," she added, noting that a highlight was learning how to make her favourite food, mac-and-cheese.

Another highlight is the fact that each lesson yields a tasty reward. 

"We do get to eat what we make," she said. "That's probably the best part about all of this." 

Miller said the program has been such a hit, there's hope the school board will soon have a similar culinary classroom for north-side students.